RS Oh, how spacious is my native country Krasnoyarsk. The Grand City on a Grand River

Krasnoyarsk. The Grand City on a Grand River

The 10th annual Krasnoyarsk economic forum were held from February 14th through the 16th. The forum is one of the top three most effective events intended for discussing relevant solutions for the economy, development and innovations

During this event strategic proposals for Russia’s socio-economic development up through 2018 were discussed along with new economic growth models. Analysis of regions’ contribution to modernising the national economy together with development prospects in Siberia and the Far East headlined the discussion. Also, the possibility of including Russia into the world global ‘digital economy’ chain was evaluated

In 2012 this event was attended by more than 2,500 participants including representatives from 41 regions from all across Russia and delegations from 28 countries around the world. D.A. Medvedev, the Chairman of the Russian Government, federal executive branch leaders, large international investment fund directors and representatives from the Russian and foreign expert and entrepreneurship communities took part in the 10th annual Forum

There where the foothills huddle together,
So not to fall,
On the steep banks of the Yenisei
Stands tall the glorious city of Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk in the night
Krasnoyarsk in the night

The past

Krasnoyarskaya hydro power plant
Krasnoyarskaya hydro power plant

The northern Krasnoyarsk region has been inhabited since the end of the 1st century. At that time nomadic tribes lived there. Numerous tribes, tribal unions, primitive states appeared and disappeared on this land. The new story of this Siberian land can be traced back to when it joined the Russian Empire.

Krasnoyarsk’s history is similar to the history of all Siberian cities—they arose one after another after the spacious areas of Siberia were settled.

The place where eventually Krasnoyarsk was built became known to Russians all the way back in 1608. The first hunters made their way out there starting at the end of the 16th century. In 1598 Fedor Dyakov’s hunting expedition team first reached the banks of the Yenisei river, but Russians didn’t exactly settle down there.

On August 18th, 1628 a ‘small’ outpost was built which was called Krasny Yar. This day is considered the settlement date for Krasnoyarsk. In 1690 the Krasnoyarsk outpost received city status

The Yenisei warrior, Yakov Khripunov, having the nobleman Andrei Dubensky (who the former brought with him from Moscow in 1623) at his disposal ‘for various tasks and trips to faraway lands’, sent Dubensky to overview the land occupied by Cossacks and find a convenient spot for building an outpost for protection from local tribe attacks. Dubensky found such a convenient place, drafted a plan and set out for Moscow to get it approved. The proposed plan was approved in Moscow and the authorities allowed the outpost construction to commence.

Opera and Ballet Theater in Krasnoyarsk
Opera and Ballet Theater in Krasnoyarsk

At the end of 1627 upon returning from Moscow Dubensky (accompanied by three hundred Cossacks) set out to the lay foundation for another outpost. On August 18th, 1628 a ‘small’ outpost named Krasny Yar. This is when Krasnoyarsk is considered to have been founded. In 1690 the Krasnoyarsk outpost received city status.

The place itself gave the city its name: ’Krasny Yar’ in the local tribal language literally meant ‘a red Yar (high bank or hill, cliff)’. It was red because of the iron oxide in the rock. In Russian at that time the world ‘krasny’ meant both ‘red’ and ‘beautiful’ (for example, Red Square in Moscow is both red and beautiful :-). Andrei Dubensky wrote to czar that ‘the place is fertile, high and red. One can build a state outpost here’. The name ‘Krasnoyarsk’ was given upon receiving city status.

National reserve (pillars) Stolby
National reserve (pillars) “Stolby”

Throughout the 17th century the main history makers in the city were Cossacks, merchants and hunters. The main exodus from central Russia flowed into other cities (mainly Tomsk and Irkutsk). For a long time Krasnoyarsk was at a standstill. Construction of the Moscow-Siberian Tract changed the city’s status - it wound up being at the intersection of land and water pathways. At the end of the 18th century factories, schools and academies start sprouting up in the city. In 1784 the first regional public library in Russia was founded in the city.

The beginning of gold mining in the 1830’s gave the city a significant push in the right direction. At the end of the 19th century the Trans-Siberian railway was built and it ran through the Yenisei province (where Krasnoyarsk is located) which led to significant changes both in the economic and social life of the city. The first test train arrived in Krasnoyarsk on December 6th, 1895.

Modern times

Statue of man synonymic of the Yenisei river
Statue of man synonymic of the Yenisei river

Today Krasnoyarsk is the largest cultural, economic and educational centre in Central and Eastern Siberia and it is a large transportation-logistics hub with more than 1 million residents.

The city represents Russia in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities under the Council of Europe. It is a participant (jointly with Saint Petersburg and Kazan) of the Council of the World Organisation for United Cities and Local Authorities. More than once it has taken home first place at the yearly competition entitled ‘the Russian city with the best infrastructure’.

Undoubtedly, Yenisei, one of the grandest rivers in both Russia and the world, is a main drawing point to Krasnoyarsk. The river Yenisei sets the border between Western and Eastern Siberia. The left bank of the Yenisei signifies the end of grand Western Siberian ravines, while the west bank opens up to a kingdom of mountain taiga. The Yenisei runs through all of Siberia’s climatic zones from the Sayan Mountains to the Arctic Ocean. Camels live in its highlands, while polar bears inhabit its lowlands.

The city is located on both river banks; therefore its old left bank is in Western Siberia, while its new right bank is in Eastern Siberia!

Historically speaking after the fire of 1773 destroying the wooden outpost, Krasnoyarsk was built up on a grid system like the one in St. Petersburg.

The streets of Krasnoyarsk are straight and even and are placed so as to receive maximum sunlight. The lateral streets run parallel to the Yenisei, from the West to the East, while the meridian streets (side streets) go from the South to the North. They were built perpendicular to the lateral streets and intersect them at right angles

The blocks were roughly the same size and made up perfect geometric shapes. The streets dispersed in various directions away from the squares and bunch back up at squares and large public buildings tower on this open, impressive squares.

One of the more unique city symbols is the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel on the Karaulnaya mountain. The chapel can be seen from almost any point in Krasnoyarsk. A wooden sentry was built here where there was a Cossack lookout for preventing any unexpected attacks from ‘non-peaceful’ neighbours. One can see a whole panorama of the city with its industrial landscape, Krasnoyarsk church crosses and splendid natural framing from the lookout point. A cannon commemorating the Cossack city founders is a bit lower than the chapel. A shot is fired from this cannon everyday at exactly 12.00.

National reserve (pillars) Stolby
National reserve (pillars) “Stolby”. Rock “Ded” (Oldman)

If you take a look at a 10-rouble bill you will see the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel depicted on one side, while the Krasnoyarsk Hydro Power Plant is depicted on the other side. Currently, (after the accident at the Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant) this is the most powerful hydro power plant in Russia.

The Russian artist Vasily Surikov, the author of such famous paintings such as ‘The Morning of the Execution of the Streltsy’, ‘Boyarynya Morozova’, ‘Yermak Timofeevich Conquers Siberia’, ‘Suvorov Crossing the Alps’ and ‘Capturing the Snow City’ (RS, March 2011, Maslenitsa celebration) is closely intertwined with the history of Krasnoyarsk. Surikov was born in Krasnoyarsk in a Cossack family in 1848. He graduated from the province academy and started working at the local government office. Upon seeing Surikov’s drawings the governor of the Yenisei province, P.N. Zamyatin, found the artist a sponsor, P.I. Kuznetsov, a gold industrialist who paid for Vasily Surikov’s education at the Imperial Arts Academy in Petersburg. V.I. Surikov’s estate is open in Krasnoyarsk and the Krasnoyarsk state arts museum bears his name.

‘Stolby’, a state nature preserve nominated for being a UNESCO heritage site, is an astounding place, a gem of Siberian nature

There is an astounding place, a gem of Siberian nature, the state nature reserve ‘Stolby’, just a few kilometres to the Southwestern edge of Krasnoyarsk. This is the city’s calling card and it has been nominated for being a UNESCO heritage site. The nature preserve is on the right bank of the Yenisei on the Northwestern outposts of the Eastern Sayan mountains. The rocks nestled in the taiga stretching out for 47,000 hectares are the main drawing point. Many of these rocks tower above the earth’s surface at a height of up to a hundred metres. Over the course of many years rain, wind, the cold and sun have etched quite funky shapes out of the wild rock. People have given them various names like ‘Olman’, ‘The Large Golden Eagle’, ‘The Lion’s Gates’, The Vulture’, etc.

There are two kinds of ‘stolby’—rocks for tourists and the ‘wild’ ones tucked away deep into the nature preserve with limited access. Krasnoyarsk residents have been visiting the ‘Stolby’ for more than 150 years now to get some healthy exercise. A particularly movement called ‘stolbism’ has arisen during this time period—it’s a socio-cultural phenomenon and way of life connected with these Krasnoyarsk rocks. Stolbism can be interpreted as being a social movement characterised by rock climbing and spending time with others in a relaxed environment outdoors.

In Krasnoyarsk there are 7 professional theatres including the Opera and Ballet Theatre which was opened in 1978. The world-class baritone, Dmitry Khvorostovsky started his signing career on the stage of this theatre. The M.S. Godenko state Siberian dance ensemble is a fan favourite in more than 50 countries.

Water release from the Krasnoyarskaya hydro power plant
Water release from the Krasnoyarskaya hydro power plant

On the Yenisei embankment, in the centre of Krasnoyarsk, there is a ship museum called ‘The Sanctifier Nicholas’. The main steamboat at the museum is more than 100 years old and it first took to the waters in 1887. It was built in Krasnoyarsk, while the steam machine was delivered from Sweden. I.M. Sibiryakov, an industrialist, was the owner. At that time this was the quickest moving ship on the Yenisei.

It is truly mind-blowing that, Nikolai the crown prince of the Russian Empire, returning home from a trip out East, covered the vast distance between Beryozovka and Krasnoyarsk in June 1891, while in 1897 this very same ship transported Vladimir Lenin to Minusinsk to his place of exile. Nowadays there are wax figures of the quite distinguished people who traveled on this steamship.

In 2003 a new symbol appeared in Krasnoyarsk—the city’s Historical Gates which were set up in the place where four centuries ago the first settlers came. Yet another tradition appeared for the city’s 375 year anniversary—hosting a carnival which became one of the main events during the city’s anniversary celebration. RS

View to the Yenisei river and the city of Krasnoyarsk
View to the Yenisei river and the city of Krasnoyarsk

Did you know?

  • 1733-1734 Vitus Bering who was preparing provisions and weapons for his 2nd Kamchatka expedition lived in Krasnoyarsk
  • 1734—1743 Johann Georg Gmelin, the German scientist/naturalist/traveller lived and worked in Krasnoyarsk. He left behind an interesting description of the everyday life and moral fiber of the local residents: ‘We were in a rush to get to the city by the afternoon and around five p.m. we reached Krasnoyarsk with a feeling of joy passing through the villages of Beryozovka and Lodeika. The soldiers here have a good life and for the most part are well-off’
  • In1828 one of the first literature and art magazines ‘The Yenisei Almanac’ was published
  • In 1845 the foundation for the largest Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin was laid on Novobazarnaya square based on the project of the distinguished architect Konstantin Ton who also designed the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow
  • In 1846 a public library was opened and it still functions till this day
  • In 1863 steam-powered boats started travelling down the Yenisei. Also, this year the first telegraph station was set up in the city
  • In 1913 the eminent Norwegian polar explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, stopped over in Krasnoyarsk. Later in his book called ‘To the Country of the Future’ he recalled: ‘So, we reached Krasnoyarsk—our goal which we strived to achieve for so long... We visited the city park which is recognised as the best in all of Siberia…The city’s streets are wide and straight, there are stone houses on the main streets, but most of the buildings are made out of wood. Krasnoyarsk is beautifully situated on the left bank of the Yenisei, in a valley surrounded by mountains...’
  • Anton Chekhov wrote in 1890 in his travel memoirs ‘On Siberia’: ‘If the landscape is of any significance for you when travelling, then going from Russia to Siberia you’ll be terribly bored from the Urals up until the Yenisei river…’ ‘The nature which foreign dwellers bow down before and is respected by our fugitives and which in time will serve as an inexhaustible gold mine for Siberian poets—this nature which is original, magnificent and astounding only begins with the Yenisei’. ‘Resting on that bank Krasnoyarsk is the best and most beautiful of all Siberian cities, while on the other bank the mountains reminding me of the Caucasus are just as smoky and dreamy.’
  • Famous people born in Krasnoyarsk include the famous Russian painter, Vasily Surikov, Viktor Astafyev, the famous Russian war prose writer, Vladislav Pyavko, the People's Artiste of the USSR, opera signer (tenor), Dmitry Khvorostovsky, opera singer (baritone), Evgeny Ustyugov, biathlon athlete, Olympic Champion in the mass start, Sofya Pilyavskaya, theatre and movie actor and People’s Artiste of the USSR
  • The following events are regularly held in Krasnoyarsk: the Krasnoyarsk museum biennale, international freestyle wrestling tournament, international ballroom dancing competition, The Petr Slovets All-Russian and International Opera and Ballet Competition, international chamber music festival ‘Siberia-Europe’, a Yenisei river steamboat club parade and Siberian International Airspace Salon

Useful information:

  • The Krasnoyarsk climate is continental and is ‘softened’ by the large bodies of water surrounding city (including the Yenisei which doesn’t freeze during the winter) and the mountains. The average temperature during the winter months (December-February) is -17.7°С (an all-time low of -52.8°С was recorded in 1931). The average temperature during the summer months (June-August) is + 23°С (an all-time high of + 36.5°С was recorded in 2001)
  • Krasnoyarsk is in the Krasnoyarsk time zone. It is UTC +8:00. Relative to the Moscow time zone the city is 4 hours ahead and is signified by MSK +4 in Russia
  • The Emelyanovo international airport, the largest one in Eastern Siberia, is 27 km outside of the city. Commuter buses can take one between the Krasnoyarsk bus station, the train station and airport. It takes an hour. Additionally, along the way to the airport stops for transition bus routes are made. It takes 4.40 hours to fly from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk
  • Krasnoyarsk is one of the largest connecting stations for the Trans-Siberian Railway. The distance between Moscow and Krasnoyarsk is 4,098 km and named train No.55/56 ‘Yenisei’ can cover such a distance in 57 hours and 28 minutes
  • Buses, trolleybuses and trams comprise the city’s transport. The unique thing about the city is that currently tram lines are solely on the right bank, while trolleybuses are on the left bank side. In the future the underground is to be built in the city
  • One can find chain stores like Subway, Cinnabon, Leroy Merlin, Metro AG, Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Emporio Armani, Colin's, Zara and many others in the city. An agreement was signed meaning that Auchan (a supermarket chain) will soon come to Krasnoyarsk. McDonald’s and Burger King have declared that they are planning on open up branches in Krasnoyarsk
  • There are more than 136 hotels with varying levels of services. The first 5-star Marriott hotel ever in Eastern Siberia is currently under construction
  • The distance between Krasnoyarsk and other neighbouring large Siberian cities (by car): Tomsk~ 586 km, Kemerovo ~ 526 km, Novosibirsk ~ 785 km, Irkutsk ~ 1059 km (Oh, how vast my homeland is!)